Editorial: MALT’s last legacy — TAM launches $125,000 campaign

Twenty-five years is enough time to ensure that a good idea becomes a lasting legacy.
Such is the case with the Middlebury Area Land Trust’s 16-mile Trail Around Middlebury, or TAM, and the reason for its recently launched $125,000 campaign to create an endowment to fund annual trail maintenance.
For area residents who are frequent visitors to the TAM, they know of its rustic charm, scenic beauty and excellent resource as a recreational trail for hikers, runners and (in many sections) bikers. The path encircles the village of Middlebury by linking several hundred acres of town land, conserved properties, school land, Middlebury College land and several local landmarks, including Chipman Hill. The path includes two pedestrian bridges that span the Otter Creek as well as numerous boardwalks and informational kiosks.
It takes volunteers’ time and resources to keep the trail in good condition for public use on a regular basis, and there’s always the occasional larger project to address — like significant erosion of spots along or near the trail as depicted in the front page photo in today’s issue.
The appeal here is two-fold:
• First, take a walk on the trail; become a frequent visitor; enjoy a treasured resource that many call the “emerald necklace” of Middlebury. It can be accessed from the Chipman Hill area, Means or Battell Woods, in the western and southern edges of the Middlebury College campus (as well as through the College’s community gardens), off the Morgan Horse Farm Road or near Sheep Farm Road in Weybridge, as well as Wright Park where there is a beautiful section of trail to the Otter Creek gorge. You don’t have to walk or ride the whole thing to enjoy part of it; a two-mile segment of it nearest to you might be ideal for a daily ritual.
• Second, become involved in helping to maintain and care for the trail and consider chipping in to help meet the $125,000 fundraising goal MALT is hoping to reach. About $56,000 has already been pledged in the silent part of the campaign; the rest is up to the broader community.
Donations of $100, $250 and $500 (and a few more $1,000 or larger gifts) are needed to reach the goal, but don’t write that check just yet. Go to www.malvt.org and read about the TAM, then pick a section of the TAM to hike during a sunny, fall day and revel in the fact that 25 years ago a group of dedicated individuals had the foresight to create a beautifully scenic trail around Middlebury’s core village.
Then, write that check and become part of the TAM community — and feel better for it.
Angelo S. Lynn
(Disclosure: The writer’s daughter, Christy Lynn, who is also the assistant publisher of this newspaper, is a frequent user of the TAM and is on the MALT board of directors as a volunteer working to raise money for this campaign. I’d write this column anyway, but thought you should know.)

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